Two Canadian prisoners break out in brazen helicopter escape

Sun Mar 17, 2013 10:49pm EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two Canadian inmates broke out of prison in broad daylight on Sunday by climbing into a helicopter hovering over a detention center northwest of Montreal, according to media reports.

The helicopter was hijacked earlier in the day from tour company Heli-Tremblant by two men armed posing as tourists, according to The Globe and Mail. The helicopter's pilot was ordered to fly to the prison in St-Jérôme, about 37 miles outside of Montreal, the newspaper reported.

Once the helicopter arrived at the prison, the two inmates climbed up to it using ropes or cables, the newspaper said. Both fugitives, identified as Benjamin Hudon-Barbeau, 36, and Danny Provençal, 33, were believed to have been injured in the escape.

By late Sunday, police had arrested three men, including one of the escaped prisoners, Hudon-Barbeau. Police had the second escapee, Provençal, surrounded, The Globe and Mail said.

Earlier, while police were still pursuing the inmates, a man identifying himself as Hudon-Barbeau called a local radio station. "It will end badly," he said, according to the report. "I'll kill myself, I'm 36 years old, I was told that I would die in prison."

When police eventually found the helicopter about 50 miles from the prison, only the pilot was still at the scene. He was taken to the hospital and police officials said he would be questioned, according to the newspaper.

(Reporting by Paul Thomasch; editing by Christopher Wilson)